Claudius has survived the murderous intrigues of his predecessors to become, reluctantly, Emperor of Rome. He recounts his surprisingly successful rule; how he cultivates the loyalty of the army to repair the damage caused by his nephew Caligula; his friendship with the Jewish King Herod Agrippa; and his invasion of Britain.
Yet beneath the surface, Claudius' good fortune is under threat. With the growing paranoia of absolute power, and his young wife Messalina causing trouble, how long can Claudius survive?
©2009 CSA Word; (P)2009 CSA Word
"Following Caligula�s murder, stammering Claudius becomes emperor, his belief in old republican virtues in conflict with his imperial role. Jacobi�s brilliant delivery of Claudius�s inner thoughts gives the latter a vital reality."(The Observer)
I don't normally write reviews, but this really is a special audiobook. Derek Jacobi is sublime as a narrator, especially, but not exclusively, if you've seen him in the excellent BBC television version of I, Claudius.
I downloaded Suetonius's Twelve Caesars, also read by Jacobi, at the same time and I have to say, they make a combination that cannot be recommended too highly.
I haven't heard the unabridged version - I went straight for the one read by Jacobi - so I can't say which of those is better. I can say that you won't be disappointed by this one though.
Unlike dramatised versions, like the BBC Radio 4 one I got earlier, Claudius's life as emperor gets space. He himself shows growing cynicism and weariness as the years go by; he becomes less self aware and more ruthless as time, disillusionment and betrayal take their toll. Whereas it's easy to see what Mary Beard means when she says that Robert Graves is responsible for Claudius's image as an avuncular and benign ruler, it would be fairer to say the BBC has given that picture, as this book portrays a more threatened, desperate, isolated ageing man, often misled and gullible, trapped in a nasty job with no retirement, but for a time at least coming to enjoy some of the perks of high office.
This is a beautifully written whimsical tale of the rule Claudius, the stammering, club footed child who no one dreamt was a threat but who succeeded Caligula by accident.His well meant rule was destroyed by his infatuation with his wife Messalina whose antics forced him to murder her. His part is played brilliantly by Derek Jacobi who portrays a spellbinding mixture shrewdness and naivety driving a ruthless tyrant.
Cat Loving avid reader.
Loved it I enjoy all things Roman and Derek Jacobi is a brilliant narator. Took me back to the fantastic BBC dramatisation. Pity this vesion wasn't unabridged.
"Second only to I, Claudius"
Derek Jacobi's reading is exceptional. The story line is a direct follow-up to I, Claudius and second in quality and suspense. Perahps this is due to the abridging of this tome, but the abridged version here has characters that are not quite as interesting as the first three Emperors and Claudius' rise to power.
Still, the tension and back-stabbing nature of high power reads like today's headlines...war, rumors of war, myterious deaths, infidelities and a public that mainly wants its bread and circuses.
"Maybe abridged is okay here?"
I was a bit annoyed to see that this was only offered in abridged version, but after having heard it, I must say that perhaps it wasn't a bad decision. The story line does seem to wander in many different directions. However it is very well written and well read and did engage me. Pls note that, even if this is not published as a series, it is a continuaiton of "I Claudius"
"Good historical fiction"
If you have read I, Claudius then you will be pleased with Claudius the God. The reader, Derek Jacobi, also played the part of Claudius in the 1970s "tele-play" miniseries on PBS.
"Jacobi IS the voice of the Emperor Claudius"
I saw the BBC/PBS interpretation as a kid. I've read "I, Claudius". When this audio book began, & I heard Derek Jacobi's voice, I was immediately transported to [the BBC rendition of] Ancient Rome. Mr. Jacobi's characterization of the Emperor Claudius as conceived by Robert Graves is OUTSTANDING.
"The only problem was that it was too short"
It was wonderful hearing Sir Derek perform this role again. I only wish it had gone on longer. There were some tidbits not heard from the BBC series, so that was fun. Highly recommended; I listened to it in almost one greedy gulp.
I've listened to this book and it's predecessor at least a half a dozen times. Derek Jacobi brings to life a somewhat dry text and makes it so interesting I never seem to tire of it.
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